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from AEO Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 1
||| Kasumi Ninja ||| By: Eric Michard / | \ GEnie: E.MICHARD ---------------------------------------------------------------- For many generations, rumors have persisted of a small, well-hidden island known as Kasumi, which has produced the world's most renowned ninjas. With the help of the Preeminent Celestials, the island is kept shrouded in secrecy. An impenetrable wall of mist surrounds the island, making it undetectable to modern technology. Those who find the island uninvited, are never heard from again. All your life you have trained hard in body and spirit at the only home you have known: the Dragon Cloud Temple on Kasumi Island. At the temple you are trained by the Elders, a group of three wise and powerful Ninjas. This group of Elders consists of Hiei, who embodies the lighter aspects of human nature; Kaioh, who embodies the aspect of indifference; and Gyaku, who embodies the darker side of human nature. This balance of good and evil is what keeps the portal to the netherworld closed. Using the blackest magic, Gyaku eliminated the other two Elders, throwing the cosmic forces out of alignment. When this happened, the gate to the demon world was blown open and Gyaku became possessed by the most powerful demon in the netherworld. With this power, Gyaku could destroy the Earth! Your fate has been preordained by the Celestials to fulfill a great and terrible prophecy. You were told of this by the Elders when you were very young, and throughout your life you wondered what it meant. Now you are sure it is your destiny to defeat Gyaku, close the gate to the netherworld and restore balance to the universe. The Celestials cannot help you directly, but they have blessed you with the power of absorbing other's abilities. To gain these abilities, you must defeat a variety of champions representing the best fighters in the world. They have been chosen by the Celestials to aid you in your quest. Only through persistence and perseverance, will you have a chance to challenge Gyaku. ...so starts Kasumi Ninja, Atari's first foray into the lucrative and cut-throat market full of endless sequels and violence, the tournament fighting game genre. Kasumi Ninja is a tournament fighting game quite similar to the popular Mortal Kombat series. It offers one-player story mode and two-player versus mode. Story mode requires you to start out with either of two ninjas, and proceed to defeat the remaining six fighters before you are allowed to take on the evil Gyaku and close the portal to the netherworld. Each character has its own set of special moves and at least one extra bloody "Death move" which can be performed after you have beaten your opponent 2 out of 3 matches. After defeating a character, you are allowed to fight as that character in any further matches. Two player versus mode enables two players to fight it out with any two of the eight main characters. You fight for 2 out of 3 rounds, and then are allowed to select a rematch, choose new characters and combat zone, or exit back to the main options screen. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// The Cast of Characters =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= The game contains eight main characters. They come in a wide variety of fighters from around the globe. Each has their own style of fighting and a "Combat Zone" specific to their origins. //// Habaki and Senzo: The twin Ninjas Orange and green-clad ninjas, both have the same special moves and the same abilities. They differ only in their color and their "Death moves". At the beginning of the one-player story mode, you are required to choose from these two only. They are both relatively quick and versatile, with a good range of moves. //// Chagi: The Kickboxer "Five time world kickboxing champion, has never lost a professional bout." Chagi has a large number of kicking moves, and seems to be slightly quicker than the ninjas. //// Alaric: King of the Goths Alaric is quite a bit larger than Chagi and the Ninjas, and as such moves a bit slower and doesn't get quite as much height in his jumps. He does, however, have a few very nasty special moves and is one of the tougher opponents to beat in one-player mode. Alaric likes to play with fireworks. Looks sort of like the late John Belushi, before he died. //// Thundra: The Amazon Queen Dressed in a skimpy bathing suit type of outfit, Thundra is quick and her long legs give her a wider range in which to make contact on her different moves. She has an odd flying leap attack, which is also used for her "Death move." //// Pakawa: The Comanche Chief Another larger fighter, Pakawa is probably the most powerful. He moves a little slower, but does some wicked damage with his thrown knives, thunderous stomps and hair-raising "Death move." //// Danja: The Urban Vigilante Another scantily clad female, Danja is also very athletic and quick. Her special weapons include exploding bolas. //// Angus MacGreggor: The Scottish Brawler A red-headed and bearded Scotsman wearing a kilt, Angus is a slow-moving brawler with a couple of interesting moves. The manual claims that his anger at running out of brawling opponents "grew inside of him like a fire consuming his soul". He has a very odd way of releasing that fire in one of his special moves. //// Lord Gyaku: Evil possessed Ninja The Demon-possessed Ninja you must defeat to close the portal to the Netherworld. In his first incarnation he looks exactly like the other two ninjas, only dressed in black. He also performs some very surprising special moves, both defensive and offensive. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Options and Settings =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Mode Select Screen On starting up the game, after the title screen, your first options screen is the Mode Select Screen. Here you can choose between One Player Story Mode and Two Player Versus Mode, set the difficulty level from 4 choices: Easy, Normal, Hard and Ninja God, and access a secondary Game Options screen. //// Game Options Screen Here is another spot to set difficulty level, and this is where you can set the Gore Level, turn on the Parental Lock, enter the code for the Parental Lock, set the game Time Limit, toggle "Story Text" on or off, and show the game credits. //// Gore Level Settings Due to parental concerns about the violence and gore in these types of fighting games, as well as recent Senate hearings and the industry adoption of game ratings and parental warning labels on the packaging, Atari has included a Gore Level setting as well as a Parental Lock feature to prevent those tender young eyes from seeing the gruesome Death moves. The Gore Level Settings include:  None: No blood whatsoever. Makes it tricky to tell when your hits do damage. You have to keep an eye on the sword indicators at the top of the screen, which fill with blood as each respective fighter takes damage.  Combat: Connecting hits produce blood which flies from your opponent, but it disappears before collecting on the ground.  Disturbing: Blood now pools on the floor, and sword indicators also drip blood when you or your opponent take a hit.  Gore Fest: All the blood of the Disturbing setting, plus the extreme violence of the various death moves are now available. For a complete list of all of the Death Moves and special moves, see the moves list included later in this review. //// Parental Lock Turning on the Parental Lock requires the entry of a 6 digit password, and eliminates the "Gore Fest" gore level setting, so the Death Moves are unavailable. The other 3 gore codes are still included, so you, or the children you are locking out, can still play the game with the dripping and pooling blood. Don't forget the passcode, or your cartridge will be permanently locked out. =-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Graphics =-=-=-=-=-=-= Kasumi Ninja views like your basic 2D tournament fighting game. The fights are shown from a side view, with a sword indicator at the top of the screen for each player along with the character's name and a mark for each round won in that particular combat zone. The fighters are composed of digitized graphics of actual costumed actors. The Jaguar's large palette of colors is used, as well as a lot of frames of character animation. Each character has a wide range of kicks, punches, roundhouse kicks, flying kicks and punches, and several special moves like fireballs, teleports, combo moves and grabs, throws, headbutts and lunges. All are nicely animated. There is enough animation so that you can see the whole range of motion in a kick or other move, unlike some other popular fighting games I've seen where you just see the first and last frame of a movement, with nothing in between. The shadows cast by players actually match the various moves and jumps, unlike some other fighting games where you get just a little circle under the fighter. The Death Moves show a diverse number of physical atrocities, with animated and very bloody decapitations, chopping in half of bodies, scalping, head-pulping leaps, exploding corpses, and several other brutal endings. All of these, of course, are accompanied by buckets of blood, fractured bone and pulpy grey matter. The Death moves are definitely not for the faint of heart. The backgrounds in Kasumi Ninja are thought by some to be its most outstanding feature. They are beautifully rendered in full color with multiple layers of parallax scrolling to lend it an almost 3D effect. In the floors alone I have counted at least 5 layers of separate parallax scrolling, giving it an illusion of depth and perspective as you move forward or back across the combat zone. The pools of blood on the floor closer to the bottom of the screen move slightly faster than those in the "deeper" layers. Add to this about 10 more layers of foreground and background parallax scrolling in 8 to 10 different "Combat Zones". There are no cheering spectators like in other fighting games, but I always thought that was kind of a stupid feature, myself. Kasumi Ninja contains animated torches and campfires, a horse in Pakawa's combat zone, and even a fully animated silhouette of the Loch Ness monster in Angus' combat zone, among others. In the final round against the demon, the setting is in Hell complete with flying gargoyles, pits of fire and dismembered corpses hanging from gallows. You start off the game in the character selection area, which is a 3D DOOM-like octagonal room with statues of the various available characters you can play as, and then challenge to a fight after you've chosen your own character. It's a little jerky and has no relation to the actual game, but a nice touch nonetheless. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Sound & Music =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Each Combat Zone has its own background music, which almost fits the type of geography shown in that zone, such as the bagpipes in Angus' zone. The overall quality of the music is merely average. I usually keep the music turned way down. The sound effects show a bit more variety, with digitized grunts, screams, explosions and various other bloody sound effects. Each player has a distinctive "hai!" or "ha!" sound that he or she yells at almost every offensive move which tends to get a bit repetitive. The announcer's voice is a badly accented, sometimes barely understandable Japanese voice which is actually sort of laughable. It took me some time to realize that the announcer was saying "show no mercy" when it came time to attempt a death move. It's so garbled that everyone who heard it thought it was some other language. The sound quality of the digital sampling, however, is quite good and there is no evidence of the normal clipping and low-fidelity sound which is normally found in the 16-bit fighting games. =-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Control =-=-=-=-=-=-= Prior to Kasumi Ninja, I was most definitely =not= a fan of this genre of video games, so I won't attempt to compare the control in Kasumi Ninja to any of the popular competitor's games like Super Street Fighter II Championship Tournament Edition (what is its latest incarnation, anyway?), or Mortal Kombat II. What little I did experience of those titles turned me away from the whole genre. The special attacks were virtually impossible for me to pull off, or even remember. I quickly lost patience with them and had no desire to play any of them. In KN, I have had no problem whatsoever in discovering and reproducing the whole range of special and death moves. The basic control consists of the Dpad for moving left/right, jumping in either direction, blocking and crouching. The A button is used mainly for the various punches, B is used primarily for the different kicking moves. The C button is held down during the special moves and death moves. Like other fighting games, the obvious combinations result in flying kicks, floor sweeps, roundhouse kicks and punches and many more. With a little practice I was able to discover a large number of special moves like teleports, thrown knives and explosives, fireballs, and all of the other moves detailed later. I encourage new players to refrain from using the lists of moves provided here, as discovering them for yourself is a lot more fun than reading them off a list. If you just want to see them all quickly and have no patience, then by all means go right ahead. The death moves are pretty funny, in a sickly violent way. The character response is certainly quick enough for me, although the increased animation frames in some of the moves make for what sometimes seems like slow response, since it takes a certain amount of time to animate some of the more elaborate motions. I've played versions of SFII that were just way TOO fast, with moves that were more of a slideshow than a fluidly animated punch or kick. This may make for quicker response, but seriously detracts from the look and feel of the game, in my opinion. =-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Gameplay =-=-=-=-=-=-= The main emphasis here is on the violence. In all respects, Kasumi Ninja is a good solid fighting game with excellent graphics, digitised sound, unbelievable backgrounds and a lot of bloody, violent martial arts moves and various ways to murder your opponent. To those of you who object to this type of senselessly violent, gratuitously bloody video game, if you won't let your kids play Mortal Kombat, Kasumi Ninja is extremely bloody and viciously violent at times, probably worse than the Mortal Kombat series. Even with the Parental Lock on, all but the highest Gore Levels are still available, you can't lock out ALL of the blood. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// In Summary =-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Take away the graphic violence and "death moves", and the game seems to lose something. It's still just a basic 2D tournament fighting game and once you beat it, it's still just a fighting game with a limited number of characters and combat zones, and you've beaten them all. (Although Travis understands that not everything in the game has been discovered by 'Net players yet.) 2 player fights against an equally skilled friend are a lot of fun, and no doubt where a lot of these games' appeal lies, but in Kasumi Ninja, no handicap feature is included for those both-hands-tied-behind-your-back fights against a novice player. I vowed I wouldn't buy a fighting game until it could rival an arcade fighting game, and KN is the closest I've seen yet on a home console. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Final Ratings =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Title: Kasumi Ninja Networkable: No Programmed by: Handmade Software Players: 1 - 2 Published by: Atari Available: Now MSRP: $59.95(US) Age Rating: MA (Mature/Adult 17+) Here's the summary ratings: "*" is a whole "+" is a half 5 stars maximum Control: **** A large number of easy to perform moves for each character. Gameplay: ***+ A lot of fun to learn and discover the different special attacks and view the brutally violent death moves, especially against a friend. Graphics: ****+ Full color animated backgrounds, 10 different digitised fighters, and a lot of blood and gore make for some very impressive arcade graphics. Sound: ***+ Average music and good quality sound samples, though sometimes repetitive. Some excellent thundering sound effects make up for the music. Overall: **** Kasumi Ninja is an excellent arcade quality (and arcade violent) tournament fighting game that should appeal to most fans of fighting games. Pts Stars AEO Ratings """ """"" """"""""""" 10 ***** GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good. 9 ****+ Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent. 8 **** Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this. 7 ***+ Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers. 6 *** Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time. 5 **+ Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this. 4 ** Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic. 3 *+ Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun. 2 * Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this. 1 + Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you. 0 - Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.
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